If the Chicago Bears were looking to extend Leonard Floyd this offseason, what would his market be like?
The Chicago Bears have an interesting decision to make on Leonard Floyd. He has not lived up to his draft slot at all through four years. However, when looking at the depth and positional value, it appears as though Floyd will be back with the Bears on his fifth-year option.
Ryan Pace has noted that they are still satisfied with his progression despite the lack of numbers and that the best still may be yet to come. That could be true, but he is currently holding a $13 million cap hit for 2019 and will be a free agent the following year.
If the Bears do believe in him, taking advantage of a down year could get him signed beyond 2020 and get his cap hit down as well.
Still, it brings a question as to how much Floyd could actually make on the open market.
When looking at players who have had similar statistical success through four years, the following five names come up. You can see how they compared to Floyd through their first four seasons. All five and their situations are worth looking into for a variety of reasons.
Dee Ford was a former first-round pick and was a late bloomer. Through four years he had one year of solid production and three years with less than four sacks. Similarly to Chicago, the Chiefs bet on him with his fifth-year option. They did not extend him before the season.
Ford exploded for 13 sacks in his fifth season The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on him but later traded him for a second-round pick that amounted to the 34th overall pick.
Showing patience and betting on Floyd on his fifth-year option could motivate Floyd to have the best year of his career, and it could either give the Bears a talent for the future.
However, if they do look to sign him after a blowup fifth-year, it is a buyer-beware scenario. Ford had just 6.5 sacks and was missed five games in his first year on a 5-year, $85 million deal that features $17 million per year.
Bruce Irvin was a player that many argued was over-drafted in round one due to his athleticism. It may not have been a top ten pick, but the Seahawks justified the pick saying that Irvin would not just rush the passer, but would play off of the ball as well.
After an eight sack rookie year, he never topped that number in the following three years. The Seahawks declined his option year despite more sacks than Floyd in that time.
Irvin signed a four-year $37 million deal with $19 million guaranteed. That is an average of $9.25 per year. The deal Irvin signed was in 2016, and the salary cap rose, but the difference between Ford and Irvin on a per-year basis is almost the difference between a strong fifth-year and a deal after a disappointing fourth.
Irvin had two strong years on that deal, compiling 15 combined sacks. However, turbulence in Oakland led to him demanding to be released. Still, in the following two years he has 14.5 sacks on three different teams.
$9.25 Million is going to be too low for Floyd due to the cap rising every year and the timing of Irvin signing his extension. That is an established floor. However, offering Floyd a four-year deal around $11 million per year could reduce his cap and keep him around.
Smith is not a first-round pick, but he was a player who did not have sack numbers over four years due to paying a variety of roles. The Packers bet big on Smith, thinking they knew how to use him. He signed a 4-year, $66 million deal, at $16.5 million per. Of course, so far, the Packers made the right bet as Smith put up a career-high 13.5 sacks in year five.
Shaq Lawson is a name that Bears fans need to keep an eye on if they want to see what Floyd would see on an open market. Lawson was taken after Floyd in the same draft and was not given his fifth-year option. He will hit the market with a few fewer sacks than Floyd and a few more injury questions. Adding in draft capital, what Lawson gets will be a floor for what Floyd is expecting.
Golden is another player who saw similar production despite a different path than Floyd. Golden was coming off an ACL injury and saw more highs than Floyd with 12.5 sacks in 2016. However, coming off of an injury, Golden had to sign a one-year, $4 million deal to prove his health.
He did just that and put up 10 sacks. Golden has injury questions but has more overall production when healthy than Floyd does. He is going to attempt to sign a long-term deal and Leonard Floyd is absolutely going to be watching how those discussions unfold.
It makes sense that the Bears want to hold onto Floyd for year five. Pass rushers are rare to find, and even the average ones see huge pay days. In many cases pass rushers take time to excel, and most of these cases, the best year of their career came in year five or later.
Attempting to extend Floyd could be worthwhile, but only at the $11 million per year average. However, the best case could be letting him prove himself on the option and taking your chances on him having a great year and seeing what will happen from there.